Canadian Lawyer

November 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 26 of 43 25 1.800.653.0925 (x407) Your workplace is any place with DM Cloud A seamless and secure suite of family law tools Amendments to the Divorce Act were the first major ones since 1985 and gave special attention to the child's best interests. They changed the terminology to replace "custody" and "access" with "parenting orders," "parenting time," and "decision-making responsibility." Changes in how family law cases proceeded had been afoot for years before the federal government amended the legisla- tion. For example, British Columbia's family law legislation, amended in 2013, was the first to expound at length on family violence and coercive control in considering the child's best interests, says John-Paul Boyd, a Calgary-based family law lawyer practising primarily in arbitration. "The Divorce Act is an important step toward [family law] reform, but for most lawyers in most provinces, it is reflecting the reality" of the language and approach already used by lawyers, which has avoided "adver- sarial, conflict-laden language that has over- tones of property rights," says Boyd. "Lawyers did not need those references to get us into arbitration and mediation and parenting coordination." Still, the amended legislation "sends a flag to the general public" that a different approach is possible. An emphasis on resolution An increased emphasis by courts on resolu- tion is positive in the family law context, says Ryan Kniznik, a family law partner in Blaney McMurtry LLP in Toronto. This emphasis represents the trend away from litigation as noted by the Supreme Court of Canada in its OBJECTIVES OF AMENDED DIVORCE ACT Promoting the best interests of the child Changing parenting terminology to replace "custody" and "access" with "parenting orders" and concepts of "parenting time" and "decision-making responsibility" Creating a new framework for changes of residence and relocation Addressing family violence, including more expansive definitions Helping to reduce poverty Making Canada's family justice system more accessible and efficient Source: Department of Justice

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